Sing Down the Moon takes place mainly in Arizona and New Mexico between 1863 and 1865. The story begins and ends in Canyon de Chelly, now a national monument. O'Dell is a careful historical novelist. In addition to giving his readers the pleasure of adventures set in another time and place, he offers a glimpse into the life and culture of Navahos in the nineteenth-century Southwest. He creates a vivid sketch of traditional Navaho life, basing his story of "the long march" on an actual historical event. In 1863 the U.S. government removed all the Navahos from the Four Comers region of the Southwest (where the borders of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico all meet) to Fort Sumner, southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Colonel Kit Carson led U.S. Cavalry troops in destroying Navaho villages and crops and killing those who resisted the three-hundred-mile walk. About ten thousand Navahos were removed; about eighty-five hundred reached Fort Sumner alive. Another fifteen hundred died during two years of exile. Sing Down the Moon captures the horror of this long march from a young Navaho woman's point of view.
(The entire section is 186 words.)